Welcome to Dead House is the first book in the original Goosebumps book series. It was first published in 1992. The book follows Amanda and Josh Benson, who move with their parents into a creepy old house located in the strange town of Dark Falls where people are unlike any they have known before.
The cover illustration features an old house at night, with the front door slightly ajar, and a strange figure illuminated in the window.
Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.
But their parents don't believe them. You'll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind. Because they want to be friends... ...forever.
The Benson family takes their first trip to Dark Falls to meet with the local real estate agent, Compton Dawes, and see their new home. Amanda, Josh Benson, and their dog Petey immediately sense that something is not quite right. Despite the fact that it is the middle of July, the entire neighborhood seems covered in an artificial darkness created by the shadows of massive, overhanging tree limbs. Dead brown leaves, shade, and shadows are everywhere. Then there is the creepy old house, that appears to have been built many years ago. It is an enormous, dark, antique home with two large bay windows on the second floor that look eerily like a pair of dark eyes staring down at the street below. While Josh proceeds to impatiently whine in protest over the family move and how tragic it is for him, Mr. Dawes welcomes the family into the home. Whilst exploring her new room, Amanda watches with amazement as she catches a glimpse of a boy standing in the doorway, before quickly disappearing down the hall.
Amanda feels much better after seeing her bedroom. She goes outside to tell Josh about it, but both he and Petey are gone. Mr. Dawes offers to provide directions while the family drive around town to find the missing pair. On the way Amanda finds it odd that she there aren't any people in the houses or yards, or even on the street. Eventually they group find Josh trying to catch Petey amongst the gravestones of the Dark Falls cemetery. The kids' father Jack ends up catching Petey and putting him on a leash despite how frantic his behavior is. The family then drops off Mr. Dawes at his real estate office in Dark Falls, where he mentions to the Bensons that they can come back the following week to finalize the contracts for the house. After an eventful first visit, the Benson family leave Dark Falls and head back home to their old neighborhood.
It's now a Friday night and Amanda's best friend Kathy comes over on the family's last night in their old house, reassuring Amanda that 'Dark Falls is only four hours away' and that 'it's not like [your] moving to China'. The following morning is moving day, and it's a rainy, windy arrival in Dark Falls for the family at their new house.
Amanda keeps seeing other children in her home and hearing strange sounds. Also, the friends she makes all seem a little different. It is later revealed that the children are all dead, having been murdered when they lived in that house. Once a year, they must have the blood from a freshly killed person to sustain their "living dead" existence for another year.
One of the undead children, Ray, attacks Amanda in the cemetery, while her brother, Josh, is still looking for the dog. Josh saves her at the last moment, when he shines his light on Ray’s face. This results in Ray disintegrating and becoming a pile of bones. Amanda and Josh run home but when they arrive, they are attacked by the dead children who explain that there is no dead great uncle and that the letter sent to their parents was a trick to bring the Benson family to Dark Falls. Suddenly Mr. Dawes, the real estate agent, appears at the door and the dead children vanish. He tells them that he has already saved their parents from the dead people and that he will take them to join their parents. A gravestone however, reveals Mr. Dawes is also dead, and everyone died when something escaped from a plastics factory. Amanda and Josh manage to escape Mr. Dawes after Josh hits him on the head with his flashlight. It turns out the dead children are zombies that crumble under light, and they knock down a tree to kill all of the living dead. Their parents saw everything.
As the family is leaving the dead house, they meet on the driveway a new family coming to move to the house. Only someone too familiar is there, and Amanda is sure it's Mr. Dawes.
Reprints and rereleases
Welcome to Dead House was first reprinted in October 1995 as part of Goosebumps Monster Edition #1, along with Stay Out of the Basement and Say Cheese and Die!. It received a stand-alone reprint in September 2003. It was reprinted for the fourth time in October 2015 as part of the Goosebumps Retro Scream Collection, along with four other books.
Before the Classic Goosebumps series officially begun, Scholastic reprinted Welcome to Dead House - Special Collector's Edition in 2008. It used Tim Jacobus' original artwork, and came with a limited edition poster. The book received an official Classic Goosebumps reprint in February 2010 as the thirteenth book in the series, and is a tie-in to the thirteenth book in the Goosebumps HorrorLand series, When the Ghost Dog Howls.
The gravestones in the book were also updated; each character's date of birth and death were moved forward multiple years.
Welcome to Dead House is made available in ebook format by the following retailers:
- The cover of Welcome to Dead House is featured in the Goosebumps Postcard Book.
- Scenes from the book were illustrated as part of the Topps Goosebumps Trading Card Set, released in 1996.
- In 1997, Scholastic and Taco Bell partnered to release a series of Goosebumps toys with their kids meals. One of the first toys was a 3D puzzle based on Welcome to Dead House, titled The House in Dark Falls 3-D Puzzle.
- Outset Media released a 150 piece puzzle based on Welcome to Dead House in 2015.
Welcome to Dead House was adapted into an audiobook in April 2015. The audiobook is not verbatim for the novel itself. A lot of minor details are skipped over.
|Audiobook||Release date||Length||Narrated by|
|April 2015||2 hours 43 minutes||Tara Sands|
A follow-up to the book titled Happy Holidays from Dead House was planned for the Goosebumps Gold book series in the year 2000. However, both the book and the series were cancelled due to R.L. Stine's contract with Scholastic ending.
- Amanda and Josh's father was mentioned by name in the book: Jack Benson. Their mother was Penelope Benson in the television episode, but it is unknown if that really was her name in the book.
- Early in the book, Mr. Dawes offers to drive the Benson family around. The story suggests that Mr. Dawes is driving his own car; he even retrieves his hat from the trunk. After driving the family, Mr. Dawes stops by his real estate office and gets out, and the Benson family drives off with their car. Either Mr. Dawes had a car in or near the Benson's driveway (that he got his hat from), or R.L. Stine forgot that Mr. Dawes was not driving his own car.
- Stine claims that this book may be too scary for kids, because he didn't have his funny elements yet, and he says that if he could rewrite the book, he would make it a little funny.
References in other Goosebumps media
- The original cover of the book is featured in the end credits animation in the Goosebumps film.
- The dead house appears as a location in Goosebumps: The Game.